Everything You Need To Know About Lip Fillers
If you are considering lip fillers, you’ll probably want to know more about how it works.
Below, we explain this popular cosmetic treatment in more detail — including the procedure itself, the benefits of lip fillers, different types and how long they last for — to help you decide if lip fillers are right for you.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about lip fillers.
What are lip fillers?
Lip fillers are a popular cosmetic treatment for your lips that add volume and shape, making the lips appear fuller and plumper.
They are performed using a dermal filler typically made up of hyaluronic acid, though there is a range of other types of fillers that can offer a similarly effective result but are less commonly used for safety reasons.
Lip fillers are generally considered safe, and results can be seen almost immediately. The amount of time lip fillers last can vary depending on the type of filler, with hyaluronic acid fillers like the Juvederm Vycross range usually lasting the longest.
How do lip fillers work?
Lip fillers work by adding to the volume and shape of the lips using an injection with a needle or microcannula.
The procedure is simple and will not require you to stay with your healthcare provider overnight. You will usually have a conversation with your doctor before the treatment to ensure they understand your requirements and so that you understand the likely results.
The procedure starts with your doctor using an anaesthetic to numb the lips so that you won’t feel any pain. This local anaesthetic is usually a cream but may also be an injection like the one used by dentists to numb the mouth. They will then use a small needle or a microcannula to inject filler into the areas of the lips that are to be treated. This can include the edges of the lips, your cupid’s bow or the corners of your mouth — or all three depending on the desired outcome. You will agree with your doctor on which areas are to be treated ahead of time. The procedure will normally take between 30 minutes and two hours though most treatments take less than 45 minutes.
After the procedure, your doctor may use ice to help ease any swelling. They will massage your lips to help the filler disperse to achieve a smooth result and avoid lumps. . You will be monitored for around 15 minutes to watch for signs of allergy or other side effects before being discharged.
Different types of lip fillers
There are two overarching types of lip filler: hyaluronic acid and collagen. Within these categories are a number of different subtypes and brands, all with different advantages.
Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers are synthetic gels made from the sugar naturally found in our skin that gives it its shape and plumpness. These fillers have a long safety record. They are preferred for use in treatments on the face like lip fillers as they are temporary and get absorbed by your tissues and are completely reversible using an enzyme called hyaluronidase.
Juvéderm is the leading brand of hyaluronic acid lip filler that can also be used to increase volume in the cheeks. This filler is a smooth one that ensures an even finish. It is one of the oldest and most famous dermal fillers. This brand contains several products for lip enhancement. There is Ultra smile for basic enhancement and the more advanced Volbella that provides a smoother and more natural feeling result.
Belotero is another leading brand of hyaluronic acid filler and has two products (Belotero contour and Shape) that are specifically designed for lip enhancement. Belotero fillers are formulated to better integrate with the skin’s tissues to provide a smoother result and reduce lumps.
Restylane is another hyaluronic lip filler that can be used to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and plump the lips and cheeks. The gel is firmer, meaning that the results may be more rigid near the injection site.
Collagen fillers work by improving the skin’s collagen levels and encouraging collagen production, meaning that the results may take longer to become evident compared to hyaluronic fillers. The original collagen fillers were permanent and are almost never used now due to risks of allergy and long term problems such as scarring. Newer collagen fillers are actually made of synthetic polymers instead of collagen. They are designed to stimulate the lips to make more collagen and hence provide plumping and shaping.
The two main types of collagen fillers are Bellafill which is made from Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres and Sculptra made from Polylactic acid. They are both injectable treatments. Although they are temporary and get absorbed eventually by your body, they can not be dissolved sooner. They are less commonly used as lip fillers nowadays, thanks to the popularity of hyaluronic acid fillers which are safer and reversible.
To find out more about collagen, please read our guide on collagen supplements.
Benefits of lip fillers
There are many benefits to using lip fillers. For lots of people, they can help boost confidence and promote a more positive self-image.
Lip fillers are considered a very safe treatment if performed by an experienced medical practitioner for anyone wanting to enhance the appearance of their lips. Fillers allow the recipient control over the shape and size of their lips and can be received gradually until the desired look is achieved. Any lumps created through the use of hyaluronic acid fillers can be dissolved easily and there is low risk of bruising or infection occurring in the hands of a qualified injector.
Hyaluronic lip fillers are also unlikely to result in an allergic reaction and side effects are rare, making them one of the safest options available. The results are also long-lasting, meaning that you won’t need to get repeat appointments within a short timeframe.
How long do lip fillers last for?
Depending on the type of lip filler you receive, the results can last for up to 18 months. Basic fillers like Juvederm ultra smile and Belotero lips last up to 6-8months whilst more advanced fillers like Juvederm Volbella may last up to 12-18 months. There aren’t currently any safe permanent types of lip filler, meaning you will need to have the treatment repeated once the desired look has started to fade.
Your doctor will tell you more about how long the lip fillers will last. However, it is important to note that everyone is different, and the amount of time it takes for fillers to break down will vary as it also depends on your metabolism and lifestyle.
At what age can you get lip fillers?
In the UK, no one under the age of 18 can receive lip fillers, even with the permission of a parent or guardian.
Your doctor will require proof of your age before the procedure can be undertaken to ensure they comply with UK law.
How often can you get lip fillers?
You can get lip fillers as often as every six months. Different providers will have different recommendations on when to come in for repeat treatment. Sometimes it will be best to have fillers injected over multiple treatments to obtain the desired look.
One of the risks of getting fillers too regularly is that it may result in puffiness in and around the face. While much of the filler will be naturally removed by the body within 12 to 18 months, some may remain. Adding more filler before the original has been disbursed can lead to migration, puffiness or an unnatural result.
It is best to talk to your doctor about the potential risks of getting lip fillers frequently and ensure you follow their guidance.
Do lip fillers hurt?
Lip fillers should not hurt if performed by a qualified and experienced injector. Your lips will be numbed before the treatment occurs, meaning there should be little to no pain during the procedure. You may feel some tightness or discomfort during the procedure, but this is normal and not cause for concern. Your doctor may use ice throughout the procedure and afterwards to minimise unnecessary swelling and bruising.
You may experience some pain at the site of the injections after the anaesthetic has worn off. This is normal and should not last longer than 24 hours. Any discomfort you experience should be mild.
If you experience more significant pain, you should contact your doctor immediately for advice.
Side effects of lip fillers
Most side effects from hyaluronic acid lip fillers should be mild and usually will resolve within a few days.
The most common mild side effects include:
- Minor bleeding from the site of the injections
- Redness and tenderness
- Swelling and bruising
- If you normally experience cold sores, these may be activated
- Lumps of asymmetrical lip appearance
Less common but more serious side effects caused by lip fillers can include:
- Allergic reaction
- More serious swelling and bruising
- Necrosis, if the filler is injected into an artery or is compressing blood supply
- Congestion if the filler is blocking a vein
- Filler migration, where the filler bleeds into other nearby areas of the face
- Nodules and granuloma
If you notice any signs of serious side effects, you should immediately get in touch with your doctor. Signs of infection include fever, swelling and puss coming from the injection site and whilst rare can be managed by an experienced medical practitioner. Necrosis is caused by vascular occlusion and is thankfully rare and should be picked up immediately as there is likely to be pain and a change in the appearance of the lips during the procedure. Serious side effects are much less likely to occur if you are under the supervision of a highly trained, GMC registered doctor or GDC registered dentist like at City Skin Clinic.
Lip fillers aftercare
Most lip filler treatments will heal within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Some minor pain or stiffness is common as is a bit of asymmetry and unevenness in the first few days Any bruising or swelling will usually go down after a week.
You should ensure you follow the aftercare instructions you are given to get the best results from your filler. Staying hydrated is crucial to recovering well. You should avoid strenuous activity and use an ice pack to help bring down any swelling and minimise bruising.
It is best to eat foods that are soft and easy to eat to avoid disturbing the injection site immediately after treatment. You should also avoid drinking with a straw or smoking, as puckering your lips may disturb the injection site in the first few hours after treatment.
Your doctor will give you comprehensive guidance on what to do and what to avoid after your treatment, so you should ensure you follow their advice closely to see the best results.